American & US Airways Integrating Reservations Systems On October 17, 2015

In early May I wrote about American outlining the process for integrating the reservations systems as part of the merger with US Airways.

This is the last big step in the merger between American and US Airways, given that the two airlines are already on a single operating certificate, so as far as the FAA is concerned they’re a single airline. From our perspective, Dividend Miles has been merged into the AAdvantage program, so the airlines already have a common frequent flyer program.

Reservations-Integration

Well, American is in the process of sending out emails to AAdvantage members outlining the process of integrating reservations systems.

Key reservations system integration details

Big picture, here’s the 30 second summary of what you need to know:

  • American and US Airways will be transitioning onto a single reservations system as of October 17, 2015
  • That means as of October 17, 2015, US Airways flights will no longer exist — all flights will have American flight numbers, even if they’re operated by (former) US Airways planes
  • Starting the week of July 18, 2015, American will begin transferring US Airways reservations for travel on or after October 17 to American, so you’ll notice changes in flight numbers
  • There’s nothing you need to do during the process other than be patient, as transferring an unimaginable number of reservations will take time

Communication with members

While we might not all be fans of the merger between American & US Airways, I think there’s no denying that they’ve been doing a spectacular job with the integration in terms of managing expectations, communicating with members, etc. But I’d also certainly hope that to be the case, given that they didn’t just have Delta/Northwest and United/Continental to learn from, but also America West/US Airways.

American is in the process of emailing all AAdvantage members about the changes. Here’s the email they’re sending out to Executive Platinum members:

In March, we announced we would shift to one reservation system later this year. And now, we’re on track to transition all US Airways flights to American flights on October 17. At that time, we’ll be one airline with one website and mobile app, and we’ll have one set of travel policies and elite benefits.

We’re working hard to make sure this final milestone to becoming one airline for our customers goes smoothly. During the week of July 18, we’ll begin transferring existing US Airways reservations for travel on or after October 17. As of July 18, all flights departing on or after October 17 will be American flights.

Here’s a reminder of what you can expect on all flights as an AAdvantage Executive Platinum member beginning October 17:

Upgrades

  • Complimentary, auto-requested upgrades on domestic flights
  • Confirmed as early as 100 hours before departure
  • Since all American/US Airways codeshare flights will become American marketed and operated flights, you’ll be able to use your upgrade benefits including systemwide upgrades and mileage upgrade awards

Seating

  • Complimentary access to Main Cabin Extra seats, with more legroom, at time of booking
  • Complimentary access to Preferred seats, which are more favorably located, at time of booking

Same-day flight change

  • Complimentary

Premium cabin meals

  • Complimentary option to reserve an entrée until 24 hours before departure in First and Business Class

Scheduled on a US Airways flight departing on or after October 17? Here’s what to keep in mind:

  • Once your flight becomes an American flight, we’ll send you an email with your itinerary and new record locator. Look for the subject line: “An important update to your reservation.” If you booked through a travel agent, you can view your reservation on aa.com as early as July 20.
  • Upgrades on domestic flights will be auto-requested if everyone in your reservation is eligible for a complimentary upgrade. If everyone isn’t eligible, you’ll need to manually request the upgrade.
  • Upgrades for a companion traveling on the same flight will need to be requested using 500-mile upgrades. If you want to upgrade a companion, make sure you request it.
  • You can request upgrades on aa.com, by calling reservations or your travel agent, or at the airport on the day of travel.

As always, you can get alerts for all of your flights by signing up for BeNotified. And, you can download the American Airlines app for a more personalized mobile experience and quick access to all of your flight information.

What are the implications as an American flyer?

Even though AAdvantage is now the frequent flyer program for both American and US Airways, the exact policies do still vary depending on which airline operates the flight. This is due to the limitations of the separate reservations systems.

For example, I recently learned the hard way that US Airways doesn’t offer same day changes the same way American does. That will change once they’re on the same reservations system.

Another thing which will change is the way upgrades are processed on US Airways. As it stands, American and US Airways have different policies when it comes to offering domestic upgrades. As of October 17, American AAdvantage Gold and Platinum members will no longer receive complimentary upgrades on domestic US Airways flights of over 500 miles.

American-US-Airways-Upgrades

Why American’s reservations integration process makes sense

As I explained in May, American is taking a really smart approach with their reservations system integration. Rather than trying to do everything overnight, which has the potential to be disastrous, they’re doing it in stages.

Only 10% of reservations are booked more than 90 days in advance. This means that they’ll only have to switch over 10% of the reservations.

And even for those 10% of reservations they’re getting a head start on things, by putting those schedule changes in months in advance.

Bottom line

This is a great approach, and it should be very smooth for customers. There’s nothing we have to do on our end, other than to be patient while schedule changes are loaded. Don’t be alarmed if your post-October 17 US Airways flight doesn’t show as an American flight overnight. This is a process, and everything should work itself out.

All things considered this is greats news for customers. It means we’ll finally have true metal neutrality between the airlines.

The only potential negative is for AAdvantage Gold and Platinum members, as they’ll no longer receive complimentary domestic upgrades on domestic flights of more than 500 miles.

Are you excited for American and US Airways to be on a single reservations system?

Comments

  1. @ Lucky – doesn’t this also affect the companion certificate many of us got when applying for US Airways card recently? Don’t have it nearby but I think there’s a time limit on when we can request the tickets using it.

  2. Also means it’s harder to tell whether yore booking an awful old US plane without power or MCE.

  3. @Ivan Y. You definitely want to book those companion cert flights sooner than later. You can only use them on US flights, so when those cease to exist, the certifiate will be useless, even if its expiration date is the end of the year.

  4. @Lisa,

    There’s been a long running discussion of this on Flyer Talk. Barclaycard and US have still not said whether they will honor the certificates past October. They may or may not be useless. There are a lot of certificates out there; it’s hard for me to imagine they will disallow their use.

  5. Looking forward to getting this transition over with. My spouse and I are traveling today on US (he’s Platinum, I’m Gold). Auto upgraded on the first leg, had to be added manually (twice) to the upgrade list at the gate for the second leg – way too late of course. Then got an email mid flight that we would be auto upgraded if available on the flight at check in. Bear in mind the flight had already taken off. OK…….

  6. Thanks for sharing. Any idea how long “the process of sending emails to notify” takes? IME AA is much worse for timely communication than US.

  7. Does this mean Alaska Mileage Plan members will now be able to credit US Airways flights to AMP?

  8. @ Richard — Yep, once they’re on a single reservations system and all flights are American “coded,” absolutely.

  9. @ Ivan Y — Great point, in theory it actually does. We haven’t heard for sure one way or another what will happen with those certificates, but I believe they won’t be usable once the airlines are on a single reservations system.

  10. I tweeted AA and wrote Barclay to ask about the companion cert. Given my cert is is valid for booking through September 30 and travel through year-end, I can’t see how they can’t honor these. Sounds like a class action lawsuit waiting to happen.

  11. Hi Lucky,

    Curious to know your thought on how soon after they complete the intergration of the reservation systems, that American will announce the drastic change to their Award chart?

  12. Another question on the Alaska Mileage Plan front. AA said today that when they load the schedule changes, former US flights will keep the same flight number just become AA coded. For example US408 PHL-PHX will become AA408.

    Alaska’s mileage earning terms currently say in addition to the bold statement about not earning on US flights that, “To qualify for mileage accrual, please note that your flights must fall within the eligible flight number range below and your flight must be marketed and operated by American Airlines.” The eligible flight number range doesn’t include AA408 or I believe any of the numbers of current US flights.

    Has AS said anything about updating the eligible flight number list as of October 17th? Otherwise it is going to be an interesting game trying to avoid flights that used to be US routes.

  13. Seems like they still have a lot of work to do. I booked a code share flight on US Air through AA.com. The return leg didn’t get pushed from the AA system to US Air so US couldn’t find the reservation. Worse, when I went to check in online at AA.com, it sent me to the US Air website and gave me access to someone else’s reservation.

  14. @ Jamie — I’d be willing to bet it will be updated and all those flights will become eligible for mileage accrual.

  15. @ Keefer — It’s anyone’s guess. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some award chart changes either late this year or early next year.

  16. Thanks for the info Lucky! I have one question….I have a US reservation from the States to Asia 2 VIA Europe as stopover (cuz my US agent was that bossy to make this happen. “I dunt care bout the routing rulez. I do what I wunt.”).

    so my question is (at least after Oct 17):

    Would my trip be treated separately (States-Europe + Europe-Asia 2) or together (States-Asia2) if I request an upgrade from J to F using miles?

  17. @ Wesley C — Unfortunately upgrading the class of service would price under the new American rules.

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